End of Game – a DnD post


The End of the Game

Around two and a half years ago, I started playing a Dungeons and Dragons campaign with a group of friends. It was our second batch of characters since everyone died in the first one. But we got ourselves together and came up with another selection. Most of those characters were solid and there were certain members of the party who came in and drifted out as the story unfolded.

On Friday last week, our came finally came to a close. For the unfamiliar, there are basically two ways a Dungeons and Dragons (DnD) game ends.

1. Everyone lives.

2. Everyone dies.

That’s it. It’s not a game like Monopoly, or Battleship, or Stratego (‘member that one?). It’s a game that just keeps going. You have a very big overarching goal to accomplish. At the very essence of the game, that main goal is either accomplished by everyone’s heart in the party still pumping, or everyone’s heart in the party has stopped and the goal is not accomplished. Now, there may be new characters who join the party and other characters who check out (either because they were killed, or the player is not with the group any longer), but there is a party (a team of characters) who comes to the final chapter in the game ready to stay standing or die. Yes, it’s possible for everyone to die except for one character of the party who, by sheer luck, bribery, or other form of mystical legerdemain, stays alive, but those cases are most unlikely.

Enough of the instructions. I don’t want to tell you how to play DnD here; there are myriad other pages on the Interwebs designed with this purpose. Off with you, if that’s your purpose.

To our Dungeon Master, Andrew,

Thank you for making the story fun, engaging, and as interactive as it was. Thank you for maintaining the tale over such a long period of time, and bringing us together to get away from “the real world” for some time to (as Skell puts it) shanky shank. I hope we were delightfully frustrating and bothersome; after all, as you friends and characters, we’re only doing our job – find your buttons of particularity and PRESS repeatedly.

I cannot believe we played that long.

All – thank you for our adventures murdering, solving puzzles, and being dumb along our path of becoming Kira’s Silver Fist. Looking forward to casting many more fireballs in wooden structures.

-Levi (Faëryn Lumodel, Ranger 15)

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Page or Screen – a personal policy


Keeping calm

Keeping calm

I have this policy. It’s more of a personal preference, really, but, either way, I’m usually pretty good about following through. The premise is straightforward enough – do not watch the cinematic rendition of an already established literary piece before first reading the piece itself. In lay terms – don’t watch the movie before reading the book.

This is in no way a disparagement of the film industry, of course, but the grounds of which certainly merit elaboration.

Let’s face it – as a species, we’re suckers for stories. Every day, hour, microsecond (someone could argue that), we’re engaged in some sort of story. It could be anything from reading about the latest restaurant review to writing an e-mail to a friend agreeing to meet for dinner. Whatever it is, talking or listening, at some degree, whether we’re cognizant of it or not, we’re all storytellers – chefs serving anecdotal entrées (be it entertaining or strictly informative) using our special ingredients of fact and fiction. Stories of love, hate, fear, and loathing, no matter the case, we love it; we eat it up. Yet, without trying to sound too judgmental, we’re also a wee bit averse to more effort than necessary (FINE PRINT: yes, I just said that you were lazy). So, given the choice between film or font, we would usually prefer to recline in front of a 30’ X 70’ screen and get fat on fake-buttered popcorn and nibbles and bits of sugary goodies.

There’s no need to state the obvious here – as a population, we read less than ever before. I’m not talking about the malarkey online statements that aver that we read more than ever before, because reading e-mail, Tumblr, or Amazon receipts ad nauseum doesn’t quite constitute reading.

You know what I mean by reading, right? I mean real fucking reading. Reading books, not e-readers, not bullshit iPods/Pads/Pamphlets or whatever other type of pocket screens you carry around (books and games for me are like Church and State – keep ‘em separate). I’m talking about reading for pleasure, reading something that you love.

Why?

Because that’s the “real” story. I use quotation marks here because it’s my own definition of real. The real story are the ones that each of us sees in our own heads. What did Harry Potter look like in your mind before you saw Daniel Radcliffe play him? What about Hermione?

Exactly. They were your own, just the way that you saw them. They were perfect.

I read the books first for different reasons. I could create a list of those reasons, but this is prose, not a grocery list, and I’d rather not allow my thoughts to be bullet points.

Text, in as many advantages as it has, comes with the requirement of effort on the part of the ‘to be entertained.’ The entertainer, on the one hand, certainly has to put in the effort to provide the entertainment, the product. It’s sort of like the soda jerk who makes the viscous, but highly-addictive milkshake for you, the customer. The idea is that you will probably enjoy the product, however, you will have to extend your arm, grasp the low-quality, but visibly catchy paper/plastic cup, raise it to your sweet little sugar pouting lips and suck like a porn star. That’s how we, the customer (after having paid for our product) acquire the value of said product. Now, compare that to reading.

We (the humans) buy the book, to get all the joy of the book into our bodies, it’s not like we can just snap a USB cord into it and slip the opposing end into our brain’s pleasure center. Doesn’t work that way. We have to run our eyes over every single word beginning after the first cover and going all the way to the back cover…and that usually takes longer than the porn suck.

If only there were a more expeditious way.

 

Enter FILM, Stage Right.

 

The motion picture – humanity’s answer to the “full” story in a small fraction of the time it takes to read a book.

Short and sweet – now (finally!) we don’t have to spend days or weeks or (yes) even months reading this bullshit and having to trudge through the ultra boring bits about the main character’s love life and how they really feel about the guy and their emotions or the work, all for the sake of ‘character development.’ Now I can finally watch Tolkien’s classics without having to read all that prolonged trash about him describing a branch on a tree in a forest full of Orcs, or Ents, or ugly things. Yes! The Movie! Finally! My prayers have been ans-

Hold up.

You may feel like your prayers were answered, but (and you’ll never believe me) you’re missing all the glory of the written word. If you watch the movies all the time and never read, you’ll be missing how much better the book is compared to the movie. Now, if you’re just plain impatient, well I can’t help you, although I do believe there are certain people within certain professions who may be of service. But, I’m imploring you not to just do it out of your love of things that blow up, or colors or beautiful people (though I’m not saying you should deny yourself of such pleasures – they’re wonderful; they are. But this is simply my own commentary on watching movies before reading the work in text).

 

Okay, where am I going with this.

 

Here’s where I’m going. The long (Tolkien version of the) story is that (for whatever reason) I chose to watch the film rendition of a story that was already in text. Mistake No. 1. I really wanted to have read the story before the movie came out (just like I did with Harry Potter), but for some reason I didn’t, and now that I’ve watched the film, I have picked up the book and am finding it exceedingly difficult to read it.

 

WHY?!

 

Because I already know what happens! That’s why. So, guess what I have to do. Well, let’s start with guess what I can’t do right now – I can’t really enjoy and savor the book the same way. It’s not like I’ll be up until the wee hours of the morning waiting to see what happens when everyone finds out that the butler’s really a herm. I already know the story. It’s almost as if it’s cheating, almost as if I’m cheating myself.

So, back to what I have to do – I have to wait until I forget the entire story and then go back to the book.

Well, lessons learned for next time, I suppose.

Look, for me a book can take at least a week (two if I have a job – which, at the moment, thankfully…), but a  movie takes a couple of hours. Why not just read the book, enjoy it, lap it up, savor it and all that, and then, when you’re ready for a nice evening out, reward yourself with the movie. You’ll find exactly how different they are – as you have heard or experienced, perhaps, yourself.

Go ahead – stop reading this right now and look up how books sales have changed in the past 50 years.

Just a thought, but makes sense to me.